Bright Beat: Stephanie Katsaros
Article by Valeria Martinez; Photos by Stephanie Katsaros
After volunteering as an Eco Educator at a couple Bright Beat events, I finally got to sit down with Stephanie Katsaros and learn what her company is all about. Steph founded Bright Beat in 2010, a consulting agency offering brands, bands, facilities, and events a variety of services to improve their operations while minimizing their ecological footprint. Bright Beat’s purpose is to raise awareness of the value in sustainability, work with businesses to identify opportunities, develop sustainability goals, and manage the strategic process from idea to action.
Working in the music and media industry for 15 years brought Steph a seat at the table and behind-the-scenes with event producers. Starting out in marketing and promotions, Steph honed her skill set as a journalist documenting festivals, before shifting to production. So how did she end up on a whole other spectrum? “I wanted my career to focus on what I’m passionate about, working with people that I care about.” While spending a year and a half traveling around the world, she marveled at other cultures’ environmental practices, and efforts to extract “the most possible value out of everything they're using,” acknowledging how this contrasts to the many resources required by the entertainment industry, and the amount that is wasted. “Often times we don’t think about waste, or who’s responsible for it”, she says. “We’ve got to shift the conversation away from waste and think of it as saving or recovering resources.” Having studied business at the University of Illinois, she saw a clear connection between cost-benefit analysis and sustainability in business. “Cost savings and marketing value are what gets many businesses interested, since everything revolves around the bottom line”, she explains. “Most partnerships between Bright Beat and events or other companies developed through existing relationships. There’s an awesome network out there, of advocates that want to see change in their event/company/business/community/city”. With her marketing background, she believes that sustainable practices can have exponential impacts on corporate business, engaging staff, inspiring and attracting customers, and influencing competitors with their “Corporate Social Responsibility”.
Remarking on her hometown, she notes “an earnest desire to make Chicago more environmentally efficient and conscious.” There is also a distinct “need” to do so, all the more visible when Chicago is compared to other American cities and third world countries demonstrating broader implementation of resource efficiency measures. Thus, Bright Beat works with events to improve the overall environmental and community impact, not just waste management or food scrap diversion. With corporate clients, they help integrate sustainability and awareness in the corporate culture to elevate employee engagement while escalating resource recovery on a larger scale. “Bright Beat was founded on the belief that people want to do good, and will be inspired by others that are doing so. We just help them do it well.”
Beyond her role at Bright Beat, Steph leads the Chicago Sustainability Task Force, serves on the boards of iHeartMedia Chicago and the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC) – which helps restaurants launch composting programs and gain free recognition via “We Compost”.